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Lawmakers Support Trade Deal With European Union

With the release of a study that indicates Texas could gain billions each year from a trade agreement between the United States and the European Union, Texas lawmakers urge Congress to support a deal.

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A trade deal between the European Union and the United States could generate up to $17 billion annually in gross product for Texas and create as many as 166,000 new jobs, according to a study released Wednesday by The Perryman Group, an economic and financial analysis firm, on the potential business benefits a deal would bring to the state.

“With all of the acrimony and partisanship in Congress, this is one of the great issues we can all come together on,” U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, said at a press conference Wednesday. 

McCaul, along with state lawmakers, including Democrats, praised the potential economic benefits a trade deal could bring to both the EU and the United States. Those sentiments were echoed by President Obama on Feb. 12 in his State of the Union address when he briefly mentioned the administration would launch talks on a transatlantic trade agreement.

In a joint statement last week with President Obama, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, said that both the U.S. and EU will “initiate the internal procedures necessary to launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”

The partnership would "advance trade and investment liberalization and address regulatory and other non-tariff barriers," according to the statement. 

The Perryman study examined four different potential trade agreement scenarios and concluded that if all tariffs were removed from goods traded between the U.S. and the EU, which includes 27 European countries, the economic gains in Texas could range from $9.1 billion to $17 billion in gross product each year. It also concluded that an agreement could produce between 89,612 and 166,425 permanent Texas jobs.

State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, who was appointed by Obama to serve on the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, said state leaders should urge lawmakers in Washington to reach a trade agreement. Anchia also serves as chairman of the newly created House International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. He said the committee would focus on past trade success, such as NAFTA, which was approved more than 20 years ago.

“We stand ready to be leaders in this area and encourage our colleagues in Congress,” Anchia said.

According to the European Commission, total U.S. investment in the EU is three times higher than in all of Asia. EU investment in the U.S. is about eight times the amount of EU investment in India and China together.

Philip Barton, deputy head of mission of the British Embassy, said the U.K. and Texas share the theme of “open economies.” He said that if a transatlantic trade agreement could be reached, standards set between the EU and the U.S. would impact the global community setting an example for other countries to ease trade restrictions. 

Barton said he expects that a trade agreement would take between 18 months and two years to work out, and that from the perspective of the U.K., the agreement should be “as comprehensive as possible” to reduce trade barriers. 

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